Once upon a time, there was a Space FlightSim VideoGame called ''VideoGame/WingCommander'', by Chris Roberts (''VideoGame/{{Freelancer}}'', ''VideoGame/StarCitizen'') and Origin Systems (''Franchise/{{Ultima}}'', ''VideoGame/{{Crusader}}''). It had relatively arcade-ish qualities, but also featured a fairly in-depth plot and a real sense of consequence due to persistent NPC deaths and StoryBranching. It caught on, spawning five distinct sequels, three {{Gaiden Game}}s, a number of {{Expansion Pack}}s, a [[WesternAnimation/WingCommanderAcademy Saturday-morning cartoon]] and even a [[Film/WingCommander live-action movie]]. All that was left... were books.

A series of novels were authorized by Origin to fill in the blanks left by the games or otherwise [[ExpandedUniverse expand on the setting]]. Mostly published by Creator/BaenBooks, some of them were novelizations ([=WC3, WC4=], and [[Film/WingCommander the movie]]), but a majority of them were original stories, though as part of the official universe the various works all reflect on one another. In publication order:

[[folder:Novels]]
* '''Freedom Flight''' by author MercedesLackey and Origin employee Ellen Guon, is a POVSequel to the ''Wing1'' ExpansionPack "Secret Missions 2: Crusade," in which the Confederation was called upon to defend the planet Firekka, which the Kilrathi have occupied for use in a religious ritual involving the mass sacrifice of lots and lots of slaves. While players fly the missions, the novel focuses on the ground resistance through four SwitchingPOV characters: {{Non Player Character}}s James "Paladin" Taggart and Ian "Hunter" St. John; Kirha, a Kilrathi servant to DefectorFromDecadence Ralgha ''nar'' Hhallas; and K'Kai, a Firekkan native.
* '''End Run''' marked the beginning of Creator/WilliamRForstchen's dominance over the franchise's novels; ''every'' novel on this page is either authored or co-authored by him unless otherwise marked. It takes place in two parts. The first, "Milk Run," is written by Christopher Stasheff, detailing a recon mission to identify a Kilrathi cultural site. The second, "End Run," details a strike to destroy that site, causing the Kilrathi fleet to rush headlong into a trap. Jason "Bear" Bondarevsky, fresh from his introduction in "Secret Missions 1," is assigned to the TCS ''Tarawa'', which, while the Kilrathi are on a RoaringRampageOfRevenge over the desecrated site, travel to their home planet, Kilrah, and cause as much chaos as possible. The ''Tarawa'' will be "First To Kilrah," but since the ship is barely more than a heavy freighter with a flight deck stapled on, this is likely to be a OneWayTrip...
* '''Fleet Action''': ISurrenderSuckers, The Novel. In this case it's the Kilrathi, who are buying time for their new [[GameBreaker Hakaga-class supercarriers]] to come online. But ProperlyParanoid elements within Confed, specifically Admiral Tolwyn, suspect the true nature of the situation. Bondarevsky and the ''Tarawa'' cross the entirety of Kilrathi space and confirm the existence of the carriers. Now Tolwyn has to RaceAgainstTheClock to get the Confederation's military from "demobilized and in cold storage" to "fighting status" if he wants to save the human race...
* '''Heart Of The Tiger''': the novelization of ''Wing Commander III'', co-written by Andrew Keith. Its {{Road Cone}}s are considered untouchable {{Canon}}--even when it takes the DownerEnding at Locanda. Whilst fighting a losing war, Blair becomes involved in two secret operations to force the Kilrathi to surrender. Admiral Tolwyn's pet monstrosity, the "Behemoth", is a space-going WaveMotionGun, while Col. Taggart's "Project Temblor" exploits unstable fault lines on the Kilrathi homeworld. Both end in an EarthShatteringKaboom, but it's Blair's job to make it happen...
* '''The Price of Freedom''': the novelization of ''Wing Commander IV'', co-written by Ben Ohlander. As with the ''Wing Commander III'' novelization, it sets as the {{canon}} events where players of the game would get a choice. In particular, where the player got to choose between the Circe and Speradon mission sets, the Speradon route is the official path. Having said that, the two played fast and loose with other aspects of the game, including some major departures in characterization and a complete discarding of the Border Worlds' {{Cool Spaceship}}s. (Heck, the cover of the novel shows a fighter from the game which the novel doesn't even ''mention''!)
* '''Action Stations''': a StoryWithinAStory, this is a fictionalized account, written by a Confed historian, of the "[=McAuliffe=] Ambush," the Pearl Harbor-esque sneak attack that opened the Terran-Kilrathi War; it was published just a few (in-universe) years after the events of ''The Price of Freedom'' and is its author's attempt to explain why Geoffrey Tolwyn became a WellIntentionedExtremist.
* '''False Colors''': co-written by Andrew Keith, though the cover mistakenly says "William H. Keith". An "interquel" between ''Heart of the Tiger'' and ''Price of Freedom'', this book details the adventures of Jason Bondarevsky, serving with the Free Republic of the Landreich, and his ship, now renamed the FLRS ''Independence'', to stop separate conspiracies by both humans ''and'' Kilrathi to restart the war. It was meant to be the beinning of a trilogy, but Keith's AuthorExistenceFailure brought an end to that.
* '''Film/WingCommander''': the {{Novelization}} of TheMovie, written by Peter Telep. The film (and its novel) detail the adventures of Christopher "Maverick" Blair and Todd "Maniac" Marshall as they first join the flight line on the TCS ''Tiger's Claw''. The novel retains the [[TheMole Mole subplot]] which was cut from the film, and also goes into more detail about Blair's status as a "Pilgrim," a [[{{Mutants}} Hollywood Mutant]] with supernatural math skills.
* '''Pilgrim Stars''' is the second novel of a trilogy by Telep. While the Kilrathi conflict continues, Blair, Angel and Maniac must deal with a group of Pilgrim rebels who have stolen a ''Concordia''-class super-cruiser mounting an experimental FTL drive which doubles as a WaveMotionGun. And these Pilgrims seem bent on pursuing a war against their {{Muggle}} oppressors...
* '''Pilgrim Truth''' details the adventures of the PowerTrio as they attempt to prevent a genocide against the Pilgrims, as prompted by the events of the previous novel. In 2000 it was canceled before publication; in August 2011 it was finally made available through some bargaining by both Creator/ElectronicArts and the [[http://www.wcnews.com Wing Commander Combat Information Center]], the franchise's largest fansite. It can be [[http://www.wcnews.com/news/2011/08/11/pilgrim-truth-released read there for free.]]
[[/folder]]

----
!!Tropes employed by the novels:
* AdaptedOut: It's actually a pretty rare ''Wing Commander'' novel that features the main character of the games. Most of the books flesh out the ExpandedUniverse and focus on either Admiral Tolwyn or [[BreakoutCharacter Jason Bondarevsky]], or occasionally on [[HeroOfAnotherStory some of Blair's wingmen from the games.]]
* ApocalypseHow
** ApocalypseHow/{{Class 6}}: In ''Fleet Action'', the Kilrathi on the warpath use Strontium-90 clad thermonuclear weapons to render several human planets incapable of sustaining any life, and threaten to do so to Earth until Max Krueger's BigDamnHeroes moment.
** The {{novelization}} of ''VideoGame/WingCommander III'' states that the official outcome of the Locanda system missions is that the ''Victory'' air wing fails to intercept the bioweapons, which devastate life on Locanda IV [[spoiler:(Robin "Flint" Peter's homeworld)]] in a ApocalypseHow/{{Class 3a}} scenario.
* ArtificialGravity: In addition to the traditional use of this on human spacecraft, the "hopper" drive mentioned in ''Confederation Handbook'' (essentially the manual for the movie) creates a temporary gravity anomaly to effectively make the equipped ship [[FasterThanLightTravel superluminal]] (though not with the ease of use of traditional jump drives). The novels building off of the movie {{novelization}}, ''Pilgrim Stars'' and ''Pilgrim Truth'' have an improved version of this drive that eliminates some of the limitations and can be used as a weapon, equipped on a ship that gets hijacked by Pilgrims.
* AuthorExistenceFailure: A planned sequel to ''False Colors'', helping to fill in some of the gap between that novel's events and the start of ''Wing Commander IV'', was canceled due to the death of co-author Andrew Keith in 1999.
* BoringButPractical: A number of the features on the escort carriers such as the TCS ''Tarawa'' that were holdovers from their original design as merchant ships prove quite handy, including a setup where equipment and cargo can be secured to the ceiling of the cargo bay for storage. When the cargo bay ends up being the ''hangar bay'', this ends up being the solution to a lack of deck space for a force of Marine transports that are taken aboard.
* CallARabbitASmeerp: what on Earth are these Pilgrims on about? Do you ''really'' need to tweak the word "Friday"?
* CatsAreMean: They're not any more kind in the novels than they are in the games. In fact one scene in ''Heart of the Tiger'' is expanded on and...it ain't pretty.
* CatFolk: The Kilrathi, a species of feline bipeds.
* TheCavalry:
** The Landreich forces in ''Fleet Action'', during the Battle of Terra, saving Earth from being made uninhabitable by "dirty" nukes.
** Admiral Tolwyn's task force in the climax of ''End Run'', rescuing the ''Tarawa'' after her behind-the-lines raid on Kilrah's moon.
* CrystalSpiresAndTogas: ''Pilgrim Truth''.
* DeathFromAbove: In ''Fleet Action'', multiple Terran Confederation planets are bombarded from orbit by a massive [[CatFolk Kilrathi]] fleet the humans are unable to stop, using {{antimatter}} warheads and dirty nukes specifically employed to sterilize worlds, as described in [[ApocalypseHow/{{Class6}} Apocalypse How Class Six]], above.
* EveryoneWentToSchoolTogether: A lot of named characters tend to get linked together this way, though usually it's more that they knew each other from previous commands while serving in the military, not from schooling.
* FalseFlagOperation:
** The Kilrathi's "ISurrenderSuckers" plot in ''Fleet Action''. This is met by a ''counter'' FalseFlagOperation in which Tolwyn persecutes his attack of a Kilrathi carrier despite the armistice having already been signed, allowing Confed to dishonorably discharge him for being a MilitaryMaverick. He then goes to the Landreich as a (politically) FakeDefector and launches the recon op into Kilrathi space... All whilst operating under secret orders to do all these things and confirm whether the armistice is a ploy or not.
** The plot of ''False Colors'', taking place after the events of Wing Commander III, centers around a Landreich operation to recover and repair a crippled Kilrathi carrier from during the Kilrathi war, and use it to slip across the border and launch a pre-emptive strike on [[TheRemnant a nearby Kilrathi warlord]] who is massing surving Kilrathi forces under his banner.
* FutureImperfect:
** In the novels, a few references indicate that they take certain movie stars to have been the people they portrayed in their films (one character was confused at how JohnWayne seemed to have served in multiple jobs) although there is some confusion about why the "historical evidence" (movies) is so self-contradictory.
** In a probable nod to ''Film/EnemyMine'', the Kilrathi think BugsBunny is some kind of important figure, and sometimes insult him in an attempt to taunt human pilots, much to the amusement of the humans. According to Bear, Hobbes was heartbroken when informed of the unintended humor.
* GuyInBack: In ''End Run'', the death of a turret gunner in a damaged bomber that [[LeeroyJenkins Kevin "Lonewolf" Tolwyn]] (nephew of the admiral) was supposed to escort back to the ''Tarawa'' (see the games section entry for GloryHound) was a significant contributor to Tolwyn's CharacterDevelopment from a wild hotshot to a reliable "team player".
* HisNameReallyIsBarkeep: [[DiscussedTrope Discussed]] in ''The Price Of Freedom'' when Blair is momentarily confused as to whether or not the ''Intrepid's'' chief mechanic is actually named "Pliers" (he's not).
* HomeGuard: The Border Worlds Militia and the Landreich Free Corps, for the portions of space they occupy, both typically using whatever ships they could get a hold of, regardless of obsolescence. The Border Worlds forces traditionally relied on being backed up by the Confed forces, while the Landreich troops, being generally out of the primary fronts of the war, relied on tactics involving RefugeInAudacity to deal with the Kilrathi.
* ILoveNuclearPower: In the ''Confederation Handbook'', mutations from cosmic radiation are said to be the cause of Pilgrim powers, though not in the short term as often depicted by this trope, taking multiple generations.
* InsigniaRipOffRitual: Tolwyn's discharge.
* ItsAllAboutMe: Kevin Tolwyn's biggest problem in ''End Run''. His uncle is none other than Admiral Sir Geoffrey Tolwyn, and his family is rather well-connected back on Earth. To make things worse, he really is as good a pilot as he thinks he is, but fails to fully understand the importance of being a team player in combat. He becomes much better grounded after [[WhatHaveIDone his actions get someone else killed]] and CharacterDevelopment ensues.
* LiteraryAgentHypothesis:
** The novel ''Action Stations'' is, per the foreword, a reconstruction of the events surrounding the 2634 attack on [=McAuliffe=] that kicked off the [[CatFolk Kilrathi]] War, written by a post-''Wing Commander IV'' historian trying to give a more complete picture of what made Admiral Tolwyn what he was.
** Not technically a novel, but the first official strategy guide for the Wing Commander series, ''Wing Commander I & II Ultimate Strategy Guide'', was written as being from the memoirs of Carl [=LaFong=], the name they gave to the PlayerCharacter before he was officially named "Blair".
* TheMutiny: {{Shaggy Dog Story}}'d in ''End Run''. The ''Tarawa's'' commander is woefully incompetent, and Main Character Jason Bondarevsky is informed, by people both above and below him in rank, that they expect him to take charge if they are to survive. Then the captain is abruptly killed in battle, and Jason, who was the NumberTwo anyhow, gets the chair.
* NewOldFlame: Svetlana Ivanova to Bondarevsky.
* NomDeGuerre: As the series centers mostly on pilots, the examples are many. [[IronicNickname Maverick]], [[MilitaryMaverick Maniac]], [[TheStoic Iceman]], [[TheEeyore Doomsday]], [[ShoutOut Hobbes]], etc. At one point, the narration pauses to reflect on whether or not it's a good thing for your callsign to describe your state of mind.
* NotSoDifferent: one of the best moments from the novels is the appearance of Kirha -- a defected Kilrathi -- in a Fleet bar. The WorthyOpponent vibes from both Kirha ''and'' the Confed personnel provide hope that, even despite the current FalseFlagOperation, a true peace might actually be possible.
* {{Novelization}}: ''The Heart Of The Tiger'' (''Wing Commander III''), ''The Price of Freedom'' (''Wing Commander IV''), and ''Wing Commander'' (novelization of TheMovie)
* NuclearOption:
** In ''Fleet Action'', the [[CatFolk Kilrathi]] use Strontium-90 clad nuclear weapons to render several human worlds uninhabitable, and nearly succeed at doing so to Earth before Krueger's BigDamnHeroes moment.
** Although technically not nukes, in the same novel humans use matter/antimatter bombs as part of a plan to destroy the enemy supercarriers from the inside, when regular spaceborne weaponry proves ineffective.
* PsychicPowers: Pilgrims who have them are called "extrakinetics". Naturally, Blair is one.
* {{Ramscoop}}: According to the novelizations, most capital ships and fighters refuel in flight by hydrogen ramscoops. Because the ''Dragon'' and ''Excalibur'' superfighters use {{antimatter}} powerplants, this gives them infinite fuel.
* RecycledINSPACE: the "ExpandedUniverse" novels written solely by William Forstchen use this trope quite readily.
** ''End Run'' is explicitely {{lampshaded}} in the dedication as being the Wing Commander version of the 1942 Doolittle raid on Tokyo.
** ''Fleet Action'' is pretty much Wing Commander's Battle of Midway
** ''Action Stations'' is an almost painfully obvious reflection of the RealLife attack on Pearl Harbor.
* SaltTheEarth: In ''Fleet Action'', the Kilrathi build a fleet of super carriers and begin a seemingly inexorable push into human space. Along the way they bombard any human planets with Strontium-90 clad thermonuclear weapons that ensure that the planets will be uninhabitable. Even if the Kilrathi had succeeded, they would have gained little because they would have been unable to use the conquered territory. Of course, as far as [[OmnicidalManiac Thrakhath]] was concerned, this was precisely the point, and was the cause of an EnemyCivilWar among the Kilrathi that ultimately prevented Earth from being obliterated.
* SpaceElevator: In ''Action Stations'', as part of the Kilrathi attack on the Confederation base at [=McAuliffe=] (Pearl Harbor {{IN SPACE}}), they attack the skyhook that supports the base, using [[spoiler:torpedoes with the newly developed capability of bypassing the massive shielding on bases and capital warships, against which fighters were otherwise mostly useless, relegating them to scouting or other supporting roles]].
* SpaceFriction:
** While the games themselves obey game-friendly atmospheric physics, the novels avert this by allowing fighters and capital ships to undergo indefinite acceleration (finite fuel supplies notwithstanding).
** Also played straight: The ships project energy "scoops" to collect free floating hydrogen from space for their power plants. This [[HandWave somehow]] generates enough friction in space to cause the ships to operate similar to atmospheric craft. Operating without the scoops allows them to travel much faster, but then their effective range is much reduced (due to them not scooping in any extra hydrogen), not to mention neither humans nor Kilrathi having the reaction times required to engage at such speeds.
* SpaceMarines:
** While they get relatively brief mention in the games, the Terran Confederation Marine Corps plays an important part of several of the novels.
** In ''Fleet Action'' they probably have their collective moment of awesomeness when they board a fleet of super-powerful carriers against which the normal weapons (torpedoes delivered by fighters) were nearly useless due to their extreme armor and shielding, for the purpose of detonating antimatter mines inside the carriers. Naturally, this is somewhat less than survivable for the SpaceMarines in question, but when the alternative is TheEndOfTheWorldAsWeKnowIt...
** The Confederation Marines' commander, General Grecko, is so badass that when a [[SuicideAttack bomb]] blows up the entire floor of the building he is on, he is still fit to go into combat the next day, minus a prosthetic arm [[PocketProtector that luckily helped shield him from the blast]].
* StrawmanPolitical: Not infrequently found in the books written solely by William Forstchen.
* SubspaceAnsible: Heightened stellar activity can interfere with FTL communications in the ''Wing Commander'' universe, as shown in ''Action Stations'', but otherwise, the only time there's significant time lag for communicating across interstellar distances is the human steps relaying transmitted messages to/from the comm system and the people ultimately at either end of the line. No such limitations are mentioned in the game, FTL communication is just ''there''.
* TrappedBehindEnemyLines:
** At the end of ''Action Stations'', Max Krueger's ship is shot down over a Kilrathi-held human world during a raid on Kilrathi assets in the area.
** The ''Tarawa'', towards the end of ''End Run'', after she has completed her mission and is attempting to fight her way out of Kilrathi space having just proverbially kicked the hornet's nest and mooned it.
* YouAreInCommandNow: the captain of the ''Tarawa'' is a politically-appointed officer and quite clearly does not have the testicular fortitude to command the End Run. Subverted in that Bear is warned, by quite a few people, that he's going to ''have'' to take over if anyone intends to survive... not to mention that whole bit about TheMutiny never needing to occur.
* YouShallNotPass: In ''Fleet Action'', a vastly outnumbered and outgunned Confederation manages to hold off the [[CatFolk Kilrathi]] fleet, at one point having civilian craft play "human shield" for the [[SpaceMarine Marine]] landing craft to board the ''Hakaga'' supercarriers, to detonate antimatter mines from the inside, where the heavy armor not only didn't help the ''Hakagas'', but helped focus the blast to gut the ships from the inside.
----